New fathers experience stress just as new mothers do. It’s important for new fathers to take steps to reduce their level of stress to help maintain their overall well-being. To help understand some common stressors for new fathers and stress reduction tips for new fathers, I have interviewed psychologist Keith Magnus Ph.D.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“As an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, I was involved in research that investigated the role of personality and stressful life events in determining people’s life satisfaction. I earned my Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Rochester in 1996, where I did my dissertation on the role of parenting in determining children’s ability to cope with stressful life events. I am currently the Director of the Counseling and Consultation Service at Butler University, where I have worked for the past 10 years. I also have a private practice in which I see individuals, couples and families.”
What are some common stressors for new fathers?
“Becoming a parent is the kind of life event that, while generally positive in nature, is commonly a very stressful event due to how much change it brings to a man’s life. One of the most common stressors for new dads (and moms) is dealing with the financial aspects of parenting a child. Many men feel pulled between the need to secure their family’s financial well-being by working outside of the home with being more present in their children’s lives. It is also stressful to negotiate the new role and identity shift that comes along with becoming a parent. Discipline practices, safety concerns, and lifestyle changes are some of the questions facing new parents. A third common stressor is handling the impact that becoming a father has on his relationship with his partner. Making time to nurture their relationship and negotiating parenting roles can be a challenge.”
What type of impact can those stressors have on a new fathers overall life?
“There are several variables that determine the impact stressful life events will have on a new father, such as personality traits, the number and severity of the stressors, coping styles, and the social support a new father has available. At times, these variables can come together in a way that negatively impacts a new father and results in anxiety, depression, low frustration tolerance and impatience, or withdrawal. New fathers might feel confused, displaced in their relationship with their partners, or overwhelmed. Experiencing a great deal of stress can impact a new father’s sleep, eating habits, mood, and ability to relax.”
What are some stress reduction tips you can give to new fathers?
“Many of the general tips for stress management apply to new fathers: learn your own early warning signs that you are stressed, adopt healthy coping behaviors like exercise, talking with trusted others, meditation/prayer, and maintaining a sense of humor, and take care of yourself as best as possible under the circumstances. Parenthood challenges these stress management tips because of the amount of time and energy raising a child takes. It is important for fathers to remember that one of the most influential learning experiences their children will have is through modeling that comes from their parents. By modeling self care, healthy responses to stress, acceptance and patience, fathers can provide powerful lessons that will benefit their children as they become adults themselves.”
What type of professional help is available for someone that is having a difficult time coping with being a new father?
“There are several online resources for new fathers, such as the National Center for Fathering website www.fathers.com, that provide expert advice, links to resources, blogs, and information about parenting. There are also several books, such as The Expectant Father, that offer ideas for coping with the transition into fatherhood. Some communities also have support groups for fathers that can help provide information and give fathers a place to share experiences and feel less isolated in their struggles to negotiate fatherhood. If a man finds himself having more significant difficulty adjusting to being a father, which might result in depression, anxiety, withdrawal, or excessive anger, it would make sense to talk with either a spiritual leader in his life or a mental health professional for assistance coping with this new and incredibly important role being a father.”
Thank you Dr. Magnus for doing the interview on stress reduction tips for new fathers. For more information on Dr. Magnus or his work you can check out his website on www.woodviewgroup.com.
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